KNOCKOUT MASTERS STUDY FOR JOHN Masters study was never going to be anything more than a pipe dream for 51 year-old John Warburton – or so he thought until a chance meeting with an LJMU academic transformed his way of thinking.
“One day, through work, I bumped into Dr James Morton from LJMU’s Faculty of Sport and Exercise Sciences. I mentioned I would love to do a masters but had no undergraduate degree. He told me not to worry as my experience could get me there and that’s when everything changed.”
With more sports coaching experience than you could possibly imagine yet no undergraduate degree, John has devoted his life to boxing. A former Children’s Services Manager and business owner, John turned his passion into his career when he was asked to manage the famous Smith Boxing Academy. “I have a teaching qualification so I teach BTEC in the morning and coach boxing in the afternoon,” he says. “As a youngster I boxed at regional level but didn’t make it to the top so now I have a real passion for getting others to the heights I wasn’t able to hit.”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, John took on the masters full-time, alongside his full-time academy management job and his part-time role coaching for England Boxing. “It’s just a case of time management,” he smiles. “I keep Fridays as my uni day whether I’m on site or not. Like everyone, I have days when I worry if I am up to masters study but the support here is amazing – not only from the tutors but also from the library staff.”
A Talent Development Coach on the England Boxing Talent Performance Pathway, John works with the top 300 boxers in the country. Indeed, ask him who he has worked with and he’ll reel off a who’s who of boxing royalty. From David Hay, Amir Khan and Paul Smith to Anthony Bellew, Anthony Fowler and Audley Harrison, John has coached them all.
So is university living up to John’s expectations? “Obviously I’m not having the same university experience as most students because I’m at a different stage of my life but I can honestly say I’m loving every minute,” he explains. “I’d tell anyone in my situation to go for it. Masters study is one of the best moves I’ve ever made. There’s no pressure from outside and I enjoy that lack of pressure. I’ve even come across some possible future opportunities which is something I really didn’t expect.”
So what brought John to postgraduate study? “I’d always thought I’d like to do a masters but with no undergraduate degree I didn’t even bother looking into it,” he reflects.